Monday, April 29, 2013

Stuffing my face in Antwerp, Belgium

One of the girls that I lived with last year is from Belgium. At the end of the program she moved back home and I haven't seen her since. One weekend she tried to come back to Spain to visit but she ended up being too busy and wasn't able to. So, for Semana Santa (spring break) we decided to go visit her on her home turf. She lives in Antwerp, so that was our first stop. From there we also visited Brussels, Bruges, and Ghent.

The beginning of our trip was a little crazy. Our flight left Madrid at 6:30 in the morning, so we didn't want to rent a hotel room. Instead we slept on the floor of the airport. We weren't the only ones either! Lots of people who had those early morning flights joined us for a big, Ryanair sleepover! 

The first thing we did when we arrived was eat! My friend picked us up at the airport and they had gotten pastries. After we got to her house we had breakfast and drank coffee and just caught up for a while. Then, we went out to lunch!

We had lunch at a small cafe where the owner tried to speak to us in both English and Spanish! The food was pretty tasty too. With full bellies, we had to go home and take a nap! Later in the evening my friend showed us around the old town in Antwerp

 City Hall and 16th Century Guildhouses in the Main Square (Grote Markt)

 Cathedral of our Lady (Onze-Lieve-Vrouwkathedraal)

And we also visited our first "frituur" which means "everything fried". The most important food to get here is french fries! But that's not enough food for dinner so you also have to get a snack, which is one of a variety of frozen things behind a window that you choose for them to fry for you. The comes the surprise- you have to pay for sauce! Whether it be a fancy sauce or mayo or ketchup, you will probably pay around a euro or more. 

It's hard to see with the perspective but this is the biggest order of french fries I have ever seen in my life. And that was just H├ęctor's- I had my own!

The next morning we did some exploring around Antwerp. First we went to see the Rubenshuis where the painter Rubens lived and worked from 1577-1640.

 Second, we visited a chocolate factory! Where we discovered a chocolate princess frog and chocolate cocaine. (It's not really cocaine, its some kind of coco powder that you snort for an "intense chocolate experience".) We also bought some crazy flavored truffles- fried onion, basil onion and sun-dried tomato, Earl Grey tea, marijuana, chili pepper, saffron and curry, and lavender to name few.

Third, we climbed to the top of the MAS Museum (Museum Aan de Stroom) from which we could see the entire city.

Panoramic view of Antwerp 

The museum, and us on top

Another very important place to visit in Antwerp is the zoo! The Antwerp Zoo is one of the oldest zoos in the world with beautiful architecture and buildings. Not to mention the animals are cool.

The bottom middle is a picture of one of the buildings- it's where the giraffes and elephants live!

And of course, we had to drink beer! 

See the Westvleteren? (farthest right) It's a trappist beer which means it is made by monks at a monastery. It's very hard to come by as the monks only sell it at the monastery once a week on a first come first serve basis. When we saw it was on special at this bar, we ordered it right away! Then, after drinking it we discovered that it cost 13 euros!!! It was a lot of money but I think it was worth it- it was a great opportunity to try one of the best beers in the world. Not to mention there are many Belgians who have never had it before! 

I will leave you with some awesome pictures of Antwerp:


Grand Central Station

Crooked house, Harry Potter corner at the University, and a statue of the virgin on the corner of a house.

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